As you know from previous articles in the series, burnout is often psychological but can be accompanied by physical overtraining symptoms. You need to take care of both the body and the mind to protect yourself against burnout. See if you can improve in one or more of the following areas.
Understand the deeper reason why you train
Cyclists driven mainly by external motivation in the form of podiums, times, and events are at a higher risk of burnout. These outcomes are often not under your control and only bring motivation in the short term. Try going deeper and ask yourself the important question. Why do I ride? Is it for the adventure, to test yourself, to feel connected to nature or to enjoy the company of like-minded people? Those are the reasons that are much less likely to leave you with burnout.
Find training partners
There are so many advantages to training with others. You will learn how to handle your bike in a group, which can be handy during races. You’ll learn from others and stay in the loop about the latest cycling news, new gear, and events. And maybe, most importantly, you’ll develop lasting relationships that will keep you coming back to training even when other reasons fade.
Add variety and play
It’s not a good idea to constantly change how you train, that’s a recipe for stalled progress or even injury. On the other hand, regularly reserving some of your training time to play can be really beneficial. The added variety will keep you engaged and playfulness strengthens your love for cycling. Play can be as simple as sharing a ride with your friends or choosing a new or adventurous location, no power meters, no heart rate monitors, and no intervals. Think aboutwhat brings you the most joy about cycling and do that for your “play” session, even if it doesn’t really fit with your training plan.
Don’t focus too much on the numbers
It’s a great feeling to see your times shrink and watts increase. Watching your stats improve can be a good source of motivation but only when things are going well. If you start stagnating or even getting worse, numbers become the enemy of your enthusiasm to train. It helps to develop other ways of looking at your training sessions. For example, learn to celebrate the quality of your training, not just the quantity. Pay attention to how you feel during a ride and after it. Celebrate when you push through a hard interval session, even if the numbers are a bit off. Also, getting a coach that can help you interpret the numbers from the right perspective is valuable.
Learn to enjoy rest
Once you’re on a roll and improving, taking a rest day can feel like a chore. Athletes often tend to fill their rest days with other activities and errands and end up not resting very much at all. This bad habit can result in overtraining and reduced energy and motivation for your main training sessions. Embrace rest and learn to enjoy it. Don’t hesitate to book rest time into your calendar if that helps. Anything that will help you physically and mentally recover.
Fuel your body appropriately
Quality nutrition and proper hydration can go a long way in preventing burnout. It may seem obvious but many athletes still don’t take this part seriously. You don’t need to do anything advanced, just put a high value on getting the basics right. Make sure your main meals of the day contain plenty of protein and vegetables. Take snacks and plenty of fluids on your rides and refuel with a good mix of protein and carbs after hard sessions. If you also get good sleep and manage stress, you won’t have to fear burnout at all.